Politics & Government

Nikki Haley talks about her future after United Nations in SC visit

Nikki Haley talks about her foundation’s after-school work with rural student

Former governor and ambassador Nikki Haley returned to South Carolina on Tuesday to talk with students at an elementary school in Bamberg, her hometown.
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Former governor and ambassador Nikki Haley returned to South Carolina on Tuesday to talk with students at an elementary school in Bamberg, her hometown.

Nikki Haley came home Wednesday to South Carolina and her hometown and gave more insight into what she plans to do now that she has left her position at the United Nations.

The former S.C. governor and U.S. ambassador talked about her future plans as she toured Richard Carroll Elementary School in Bamberg. It was Haley’s first public appearance in South Carolina since attending Gov. Henry McMaster’s inauguration.

Not on her mind, she insists, were any plans to run for public office again, despite speculation the Bamberg native could launch a bid for president in 2024.

“I’m not thinking about it,” said Haley, who left her U.N. post late last year.

Instead, Haley talked more about her past than her future as she spoke to students in an after-school homework program organized by the Original Six Foundation, a non-profit founded by Haley in 2011 after she was elected the Palmetto State’s first female and first minority governor. She encouraged them to dream big as they considered their own futures.

“I didn’t know I would be governor or ambassador” when she was their age, Haley told the students. “But everything I learned in Bamberg taught me how to do that.”

Haley has made some of her plans public. She’s writing a book, slated for fall release, she said, about her time as governor and serving in President Donald Trump’s administration. She also may soon join the board of directors at Boeing, which operates an airplane manufacturing center in North Charleston.

Haley has also started a policy advocacy group, Stand for America, focused on foreign policy issues. The group provides Haley a platform to push for the hawkish views she honed at the U.N., but it also allows her to stay in the public spotlight ahead of a possible run for national office.

“It’s meant to be about good policy, not elections, and not (be) highly partisan,” Haley said, while singling out some domestic issues she wants to focus on. “We want to promote what we see as good policies, educate people on the Green New Deal, on socialism versus capitalism.”

She says Stand for America will focus on digital initiatives to reach young people, and she expects to begin organizing events on college campuses soon. Haley said she will be “very involved” with the group, but wouldn’t identify any of Stand for America’s donors.

“There are a lot of conservatives out there who know there’s not enough out there on policy,” she said. “And they know I’m not running for anything, so I’m not a threat.”

Ambassador Nikki Haley received the 2019 Friend of Israel Humanitarian Award at he Greater Miami Jewish Federation's Main Event, one of the biggest fundraisers for the federation, which supports Jewish organizations and schools.

Jordan Ragusa, a political science professor at the College of Charleston, doesn’t expect to hear any more concrete plans from Haley for some time, especially after she ruled out running against Trump in 2020.

“I don’t think anyone but Nikki Haley and a few close people in her orbit know what her future plans are,” Ragusa said. “Maybe she doesn’t even know.”

Haley’s work with the Original Six could keep her name in the spotlight for the next six years, especially in the first-in-the-South primary state she calls home. But it’s also a long-time focus of Haley’s, dating back to her own time in rural schools.

Haley helped run the charity, focused on helping rural South Carolina, during her time as governor. But she had to step away when she was named ambassador. She rejoined the foundation’s board in February.

In addition to its work in Bamberg, the Original Six Foundation provides after-school homework assistance to fourth through eighth grade students at Manning Junior High School, and at Jonesville Elementary and Middle School. It also operates an early education literacy program from kindergarten through third grade at Barnwell Primary School.

Richard Carroll is in Bamberg District One, which like many rural districts faces challenge. The district has less than 1,500 students and has been targeted for consolidation with neighboring Bamberg District Two.

Other post-U.N. projects, like serving on the Boeing board, could point to Haley looking at opportunities beyond a return to public office, Ragusa said.

“That’s the kind of thing she could be scrutinized for,” Ragusa said, comparing it to Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street firms that became a liability in her 2016 campaign for president.

“But,” he added, “it probably helps her in South Carolina because of Boeing’s clout.”

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Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.